"Saving Meritocracy? China’s Anti-Corruption Campaign"
Presenter: Peter Lorentzen, Assistant Professor, Economics Department, University of San Francisco
China’s unique system of hiring and promoting talented people within the state, under the supervision of the Communist Party, has been held up as an important institutional factor supporting its remarkably rapid and sustained economic growth. We explore this meritocracy argument in the context of Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign. Some question the sincerity of the campaign, arguing that it is nothing but a cover for intra-elite struggle and a purge of Xi’s opponents. In this article, we use a dataset we have created of officials accused in the first wave of this crackdown and their reported connections. Our evidence supports the Party’s claim that the crackdown is primarily a sincere effort to cut down on the widespread corruption that was undermining its efforts to maintain an effective meritocratic governing system. First, we visualize the “patron–client” network of all probed officials announced by the central government and identify the core targets of the anti-corruption campaign. Second, we use a recursive selection model to analyze who the campaign has targeted, providing evidence that even personal ties to top leaders have provided little protection. Finally, we show that, in the years leading up to the crackdown, the provinces later targeted had departed from the growth-oriented meritocratic selection procedures evident in other provinces.
CRW provides a forum for the presentation of original research by China scholars from around the country in social science and humanities, sponsored by the Fudan-UC Center on Contemporary China. To view archive and upcoming workshops list, visit: http://fudan-uc.ucsd.edu/events/workshops.html